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Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) describes actions of an employee where high OCB is evidenced by positive behaviors that are above expected. Low OCB is evidenced by negative, or lack of positive, behaviors that are below expected. For example, an employee with high OCB likely volunteers for committees while an employee with low OCB likely fails to attend required meetings. As its name states, it is how an employee behaves as a citizen of their organization. However, as a leader, it is important to distinguish between the two motivators for the positive behaviors: is the motivation altruistic or self-serving?
Recent research uncovers important employee attributes that affect their motivation, and an enlightened leader will keep these in mind as they develop their relationships with their followers based on follower OCB. Failure to do so can cause organizational dysfunction. The following summarizes Five Star Leadership®'s analysis of WHAT recent research says, WHY it is important to you as a leader, and HOW to use the research for better leadership outcomes.
What they studied. Wingate, Lee, and Bourdage (http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cbs0000125) studied employees regarding how they exhibited OCB – their behaviors -and related these behaviors to their motivations and a set of personality traits along with leadership styles. The goals were:
The authors were interested in "Good Soldiers vs. Good Actors." Beats me how they got almost 400 people to answer all the questions needed to address these variables!
Their findings were:
The bottom line is that the context of an organization is important in determining whether other-serving or self-serving motivations for OCB reigns supreme. What type of leadership, what rewards, how relationships are built and maintained, and how leaders model behaviors are critical variables to consider when an organization wants healthy other-serving OCB.
Why this is important. It is this healthy other-motivated OCB that has been found related to important positive organizational outcomes, including increased productivity, lower voluntary turnover, higher workplace safety, and customer satisfaction. As a leader, if you know what you want to ultimately accomplish, you can walk back the process of getting there and implement change to build the steps to that success. Several steps described by this study are:
By looking at those steps, you can then decide how to use this information.
How to use this information. There are two functions that must be addressed in order to use this information. The first is management; the second is leadership. To use this information, management must find the need for change important enough to implement data collection and analysis tools to determine employee personalities, the political climate in the organization, the leadership styles in effect, and the reward systems. The context for an organization is built from these four dimensions. Without data collection and analysis over time, there cannot be effective change as there is no starting point and ending point to examine for how interventions such as leadership development courses affected the organization.
Regarding leadership, you, the leader, must look are five characteristics of your leadership style. (See my book "How successful teams work…" at https://amzn.to/2RzgeQm on Amazon for much more information on this.) These five characteristics are leadership behaviors important to developing the right kind of relationship with followers that supports other-serving motivation. You can develop these habits just as you might develop the habit of healthy exercise. Identify where you are, where you want to be, how to get there, and create the goal!So here is what you want to behave like:
By reviewing these types of "How to be a leader" activities that create other-serving OCB, you can see that you can change for the better. If you can't, that's ok, but don't expect change in your team members in this respect.
Who Helps and Why? Contextualizing Organizational Citizenship Behavior
Employees use organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) to achieve different functions: some OCB reflects altruistic motivations to help one's organisation or coworkers, and some OCB reflects self-serving impression management motivations. Across 2 samples (Ns = 191 and 189), we contextualize functional (i.e., goal-directed) OCB with respect to dispositional and situational factors. Other-serving OCB was more common among employees higher on Honesty-Humility, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness, and in workplaces with transformational (intrinsically motivating) leaders and low perceptions of politics. In contrast, all forms of self-serving OCB (i.e., OCB for impression management purposes) were more common among employees low in Honesty-Humility, and some forms of self-serving OCB were more common in more political workplaces (high perceptions of politics). These findings extend the theoretical and practical benefits of a functional approach to OCB, where employees use OCB to achieve different goals-namely, to serve or to receive recognition-within different social and material reward systems.
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